Tuesday, October 26, 2010

I'll Take Squicky Article Titles for 100, Alex

Apparently, Alloy Wants to Own Teenage Girls. Don't they know that's illegal in four out of five civilized countries?

In case you're unfamiliar with the company, Alloy is the media empire that's behind such book series as The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants and Gossip Girl, and lots more outside of books. According to this article, it's their stated intention to grab the teenage girls of America and get all the money they can out of them.

I would launch into a good ol' railing post, except that I've read a lot of Alloy's produced books, and . . . um . . . a lot of them are pretty good. Even more of them (ahem GOSSIP GIRL ahem) are, like, waaaay addictive! Whatever their reasons for doing it, at least they're paying attention to the quality of the product.

Still, this makes me feel all squicky. Weigh in!


Lisa Jenn Bigelow said...

Interesting. Treating teen girls' attention span as a commodity is not exactly new. And the potential commercial applications of Internet media (e.g., the interactive Kmart "show") aren't news either -- though they're becoming less hypothetical and more widespread all the time.

However, I had no idea Alloy was turning into this sort of media empire; I still thought of them mainly as a book packager. And there *is* "ick" to that. Obviously most publishers are commercial entities, but they are in the business of selling *books* -- not, as Alloy is apparently evolving toward, *advertisements.*

Bibliovore said...

I know. Is it just the next logical step? Or is it the bottom of a slippery slope?

And like I said, how much difference does it make that the product they're packaging is actually high-quality? They're not pretending to improve anybody's mind, but they sure know how to put together good stories.

I feel my Cyn-O-Meter dialing up to 11.

Michelle said...

But isn't "ownership" of teens something most companies want? Alloy just said it out loud. Granted in a questionable way. LOL

Melissa said...

I'm not sure it's any more squidgy than Disney trying to own parents with all the movie-tie-ins (toys, dolls, books) and all those damn straight-to-DVD videos. You don't want to be owned by a big corporation? Don't by the stuff. Nuff said.

Bibliovore said...

That's true enough, Melissa and Michelle. Alloy's just being more open about it.

Lisa Jenn Bigelow said...

I disagree that Alloy's movement toward "owning" teen girls is the same as what any corporation wants. Any corporation wants to make a profit, yes, but the difference is in where income is coming from.

The article is describing a shift from selling product toward selling advertising, especially through online media. In advertising, consumers are the commodity, and corporations are the customers.

So there's actually a split in Alloy's enterprises here. They're still selling a product, books, to individual customers. But their online content, free to users, is actually a vehicle for outside corporations to buy teen girls' attention through advertising.

I know Disney must sell advertising to outside corporations, too (ads on the Disney Channel, product placement in movies, etc.). I'm not sure how Disney's advertising income compares to its product income from movie sales, toys, etc. The comparison to Alloy seems somewhat fair, in any case. But, unless there's something I've missed, you *don't* see FSG, Scholastic, and other book publishers making money through selling advertisements.

And therein, for me, lies the "squidge."